THE FOUR FEATHERS is the seventh film based on A.E.W. Mason's novel
of the same name. Badly miscast and directed, it's a costume drama
set in the late 1800s that is a half hour too long.
Heath Ledger, who is marvelous in frivolous comedies like A KNIGHT'S
TALE or 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, attempts to play the story's dramatic
lead, Harry Faversham, an army soldier who resigns his commission
when his regiment is to be sent to fight in the Sudan. Four of his
"friends" send Harry white feathers representing cowardice. Although
Ledger gives it his all, he is rarely convincing. Even worse is Academy
Award nominee Kate Hudson, who was so precious and poignant in ALMOST
FAMOUS. As Ethne Eustace, Harry's fiancée, she brings nothing to
her role. Wes Bentley (AMERICAN BEAUTY) is just slightly better as
Lt. Jack Durrance, Harry's friend and rival for Ethne's affection.
The plot has Harry going incognito as an Arab behind enemy lines in
the Sudan in order to look for an opportunity to prove his bravery
and help the friends who had lost faith in him. Director Shekhar
Kapur has the same problem that he did with his vastly overrated ELIZABETH.
He knows how to compose some interesting images but has no clue how
to fashion a compelling story. Although the movie does pick up in
the last act during a rousing and nicely filmed battle sequence, most
of the movie just lumbers along, feeling like the editing was never
finished. Kapur does come out foursquare against British colonialism,
which seems to be the only point he is capable of making effectively.
He makes this point again and again, lest we might miss it. I'd
recommend missing the entire movie.
THE FOUR FEATHERS runs a long 2:03. It is rated PG-13 for "intense
battle sequences, disturbing images, violence and some sensuality"
but would have been more appropriately rated R given the level of
violence. It would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes